Of course, if a buyer should emerge for the entire resort, and the resort and its Melrose and Bloody Point (Weiskopf/Moorish design) golf courses should resume attracting vacationers, increased ferry fares should be enough to justify continuing operations. Certainly new resort operators would see to it that transportation to the island was uninterrupted and frequent. But at an auction in October, no bidders emerged to offer a minimum bid of $16.5 million for most of the resort, including the Melrose golf course and most of the other amenities. (Bloody Point and the resort’s marina were not included.)
On the other side of the island, the golf community of Haig Point continues to run its own frequent ferry service. But its boats are too small to accommodate the resort’s residents. Haig Point, whose mostly second-home owners would appear to have the resources to sustain the community through the housing recession, offers free golf club membership to virtually anyone who buys a resale home on the property, but carrying costs are relatively high, somewhere around $15,000 per year for POA dues, club dues and the operating costs of that darn ferry. The 27-hole Rees Jones course is outstanding, one of the best in the golf rich state.
Properties in Haig Point show all the classic markers of a risk/reward proposition. For example, I received an email this week offering a 4 bedroom, 4 ½ bath, 4,000-square-foot home for sale for just $495,000. I say “just $495,000” because the lakefront home features a treed one-acre lot, an attached private guest suite and a previous appraisal of $1 million. On an island with a bankrupt resort and nervous residents, a discount of about 50% does not seem far-fetched or out of line.
Some Daufuskie Island and county residents are talking about two potential solutions to the resort’s ferry problem –- either to permit casino gambling on the island or to build a bridge from Hilton Head. In conservative South Carolina, it is an open question which would take longer to build –- the bridge itself or a consensus on casino gambling. Either way, it could be decades.
The 16th hole at the Jack Nicklaus-designed Melrose course at the Daufuskie Island Resort. The resort is available for sale post bankruptcy.